NFPs Launch Election Campaign for Childhood Learning
6 May 2016 at 11:33 am
Australia’s early learning participation rate is in the bottom third of OECD countries, according to a coalition of organisations who have joined forces in the lead up to the federal election.
The group of early childhood organisations launched the Early Learning: Everyone Benefits campaign on Friday, with the support of former governor general Quentin Bryce, to increase community understanding of the benefits of children’s development programs.
They are also seeking a political commitment to to increase access to quality programs, with investment in early learning currently than less than 1 per cent of total budget outlays in most states and territories, and 0.2 per cent nationally as a proportion of combined state, territory and Commonwealth budgets.
“We all benefit from children’s participation in quality early learning, and it is at least as important as school education for children’s outcomes and our future prosperity,” Bryce said.
“If we want a prosperous, healthy society, let’s make sure that every Australian child gets the support they need in those early years, when it can make the most difference, to them and to all of us.
“Investing in quality early learning will create a quality future for all Australians.”
To coincide with the campaign launch, the organisations released The State of Early Learning in Australia report, which found low investment and participation rates of young children in early learning.
The report also said the gap between children from low and high socio-economic backgrounds was widening.
“The first five years of every child’s life can unleash a lifetime of potential,” CEO of Early Childhood Australia and campaign spokesperson, Samantha Page, said.
“However, Australia is lagging behind other developed countries in terms of the number of children participating in quality early learning.”
The report found that one in five children were developmentally vulnerable when they started school, and this number doubled for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
The data also showed that Australia has a low participation are of three year olds across all states and territories, at 66 per cent compared to the OECD average of 74 per cent.
Australia ranked in the bottom third of countries in the OECD, 27 out of 39, for the participation of three year olds, lagging behind the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan and Denmark.
The group said investment in early learning is directly linked to increasing Australia’s future prosperity.
“We are now at a critical juncture – where Australia’s education results are declining, and we must act to ensure more children attend quality early learning, for long enough to amplify their development,” Page said.
The campaign is also supported by Early Learning Association Australia, Family Day Care Australia, Goodstart Early Learning, Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange, UnitingCare Australia; Australian Community Children’s Services, Australian Research Alliance for Children and Young People, The Benevolent Society, The Centre for Community Child Health at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, C&K, KU Children’s Services and The Parenthood.